Where is Hurricane Florence Headed?

Hurricane Florence satellite

DTN Weather,
September 7, 2018

Where Will hurricane Florence Go?

The biggest question in the weather world this week is the eventual track of Hurricane Florence. The exact answer to this question is impossible to know at this point, but there are some important hints that could give us insight as to the most likely future for Florence. Historically, there have been 117 hurricanes that passed within 200 miles of Florence’s forecast position 5 days from now. Of those 117 storms, 5 have made a direct landfall on the United States. This is a very small number, but it’s important to take a deeper look at why those 5 systems hit the United States.

All 5 hurricanes in question were turned back to the west by an anomalously strong ridge of high pressure sitting across the northern Atlantic Ocean. This same strong ridge will exist as Florence treks to the west and northwest through the next several days, so the storm will very likely move further west than a typical hurricane at its current position. That said, the strength of the northern ridge beyond 5 days is not certain, which leaves the track of Florence in question.

Tropical Storm Gordon Remnants

The primary uncertainty in the ridge weakness is caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon, which made landfall across the northeastern Gulf Coast on Tuesday night. The remnant low is forecast to move northeastward this weekend, passing through New England and into the Canadian Maritime Provinces on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. As a result, the remnants of Gordon may break down the North Atlantic ridge enough to allow Florence a path to escape out to sea before making landfall on the East Coast.

Tropical Storm Gordon satellite image
Satellite of Tropical Storm Gordon remnants

What’s next?

Complicated interactions of multiple weather features will ultimately determine the eventual track for Hurricane Florence. It is a solid bet that Florence will be located south of Bermuda around 5 days from now, but from there the solution is muddied with uncertainty. At the very least, rough seas are expected offshore for most areas north of the Carolinas next week, and rip current risks will likely develop on beaches of the Mid-Atlantic and New England states. As to the extent of impacts from Florence, only time will tell. Interests on the East Coast should be closely monitoring the progress of the storm and making preliminary storm preparations in case a U.S. bound track continues.